A RUDN ecologist and a colleague from a leading Jordanian University have identified the role of waste clusters (eco-industrial parks) in the transition to a sustainable circular economy. These complexes where waste is sorted, recycled and immediately turned into new goods, have been able to completely change the state of the environment and human health. The results are featured in Sustainability.
The traditional economic model is linear. It involves creating goods, using them, and then burying them. It should be replaced by a circular economy, which is based on the renewal of resources, the processing of waste into secondary material resources. One of the possible tools for the transition to a circular economy is the introduction of eco-industrial parks. These are special clusters in which waste is sorted, processed and used to manufacture new products. RUDN ecologist Anna Kurbatova and her colleague Professor Hani Abu Qdais from the Jordan University of Science and Technology established how Russian eco-industrial parks minimize the impact on climate and human health.
“Eco-industrial parks are important for promoting a circular economy. They create a symbiosis of various industries for reuse and recycling of waste. In many countries, eco-industrial parks are emerging where materials and resources are used simultaneously to optimize economic and environmental performance. For example, in Korea, eco-industrial parks have become a central element of the strategy to move towards a circular economy. Our goal was to assess what role eco-industrial parks play in promoting the circular economy model,” said Anna Kurbatova, PhD in Environmental sciences, Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental Safety and Product Quality Management, RUDN University.
By 2030, 70 eco-industrial parks should appear in Russia, and they are already operating in five regions. Technoparks are a significant part of the Russian strategy for the transition to a circular economy. Ecologists from RUDN University and the Jordanian University JUST have calculated that if 1,813 tons of Moscow's solid waste is redirected to eco-industrial parks instead of landfills, the negative impact on the environment will noticeably decrease. The contribution to global warming will decrease by 59%. The negative impact on the health of residents will also decrease. Carcinogenic factors by 92%, non- carcinogenic by 96%.
For the calculation, the authors of the study applied the life cycle assessment method. This methodology allows to measure the level of environmental impact of products at all stages of the life cycle. It includes the extraction of raw materials, production, application, repair, transportation and disposal.
“Eco-industrial parks allow us to talk about more sustainable scenarios compared to traditional ones, in which solid waste is buried in landfills. Recycling and disposal of waste in ecotechnoparks can reduce the impact on both the environment and human health,” Anna Kurbatova, PhD in Environmental sciences, Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental Safety and Product Quality Management, RUDN University.